A Maribyrnong Council report has recommended the Council reject its own draft masterplan for Footscray Park, stalling Melbourne Victory’s plans to pursue its soccer academy proposal.
The plan to build a soccer academy on the western edge of the park was outlined in an updated draft master plan for the site, but extensive controversy over the proposal has prompted council staff to recommend further investigating the idea.
A report to go before Tuesday night’s council meeting instead recommends that a Community Advisory Panel be established to review the proposal, provide future options for Footscray Park and to report back these findings to the council.
A February resolution to the City Development Special Committee resolved to undertake community consultation on the Draft Footscray Park Masterplan Update.
The draft received 104 online survey responses, two submissions from friends groups and more than 1500 written submissions.
Of the written submissions 54 per cent supported the Masterplan proposal and 45 per cent did not support the Masterplan proposal (primarily due to the football facility component.
Friends of the Maribyrnong Valley and Friends of Steele Creek were not supportive, but submissions from Footscray Rowing Club and Victoria University were in favour.
A Metropolis Research survey of 516 residents within the vicinity of Footscray Park found 31 per cent in support, 36 opposed and 33 per cent undecided.
Supportive respondents believed the plan was good for soccer development, training opportunities and good for the community or local area, while the main reason for opposing the masterplan related to private use and loss of public open space.
The report found that high quality recreational facilities would benefit a number of community clubs and groups outside of Melbourne Victory training times, estimated at 38 hours per week.
Most concerns raised during the consultation related to the proposed fencing, which was seen as privatisation of the park and a physical barrier to community access.
“The football facility component received significant support and opposition, raising a number of issues requiring further resolution,” the report stated.
“At present it is recommended that the draft masterplan be rejected.”
The community advisory panel would include five community representatives, representatives from the Footscray Historical Society, Friends of Maribyrnong Valley, Wurundjeri Tribe Council, Footscray and Maribyrnong Colleges and a number of local sporting clubs.
The panel would advise Council on amendments to the Footscray Park masterplan, community benefits of a youth academy as outlined in the proposal, the possible location of the youth academy and supporting facilities and conditions concerning any lease and licensing arrangements that may be required.
An amended draft Footscray Park Masterplan would then be publicly exhibited for community comment prior to Council adoption.
Councillors will vote on the proposal next Tuesday night.